In the 1970s the hugely popular comic character Fred Dagg allowed Kiwis to laugh with affection at some of the rural myths that had once defined us as a country. When economic recession took hold in the middle of the decade the laconic Dagg – resplendent in black singlet and floppy hat – reminded us that ‘She’ll be right’ and that no matter how bad things got, ‘New Zealand’s a cracker’.
By the time Britain finally entered the European Economic Community in 1973 we had already begun diversifying our export markets. But our loss of status as ‘Britain’s farmyard’ was still a blow. The oil shocks of 1973 and 1978–9 highlighted the vulnerability of the New Zealand economy.